Emotions guide our actions, so we must listen to them and embrace emotional intelligence to make rational decisions.
The Science Behind Emotional Decision Making: A Guide to Rational Choices
One of our biggest challenges, without a doubt, is using our emotions to make rational decisions. Once we recognize that emotions guide all we do, life gets easier. You can learn more about this in my book, The Power of Emotion. Life is all about choices, and making the best rational decisions comes with those choices.
The Influence of Our Emotions on Decision Making
Emotions play a significant role in our life; they guide our decisions. Therefore, carefully managing them is critical to our success. Developing your emotional intelligence by learning to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions will inevitably change how you make decisions.
(Would you like to learn more about developing your emotional intelligence? Visit this post next)
Focusing on our emotions’ influence on our decision-making is significant because, in the snap of a finger, they can take over and direct us to say or do things that are not rational, which we may regret.
Ask yourself: Have you ever made a hasty decision and regretted it immediately? Most of us have been in a situation where our emotions took over, and we realized afterward that our behaviour or judgment was not rational.
Emotional hijacking is quite common. It’s likely a lot more common than you think, but as you increase your emotional intelligence, you will quickly recognize, understand, and manage your emotions.
Avoid Emotional Hijacking
Emotional hijacking happens to all of us at one time or another. It can occur in a matter of seconds anywhere, including at work.
Suppose you get emotionally hijacked when a colleague disappoints you, and you lash out harshly instead of sharing your feelings calmly. When this occurs, emotion and decision-making can be a dangerous combination.
After seeing the shock and hurt on your colleague's face, you're embarrassed and regret your actions and decision to act impulsively. You wish you behaved more rationally because you know how long it will take to repair this relationship. It can quickly happen at home as well. Sometimes a negative move will set us off, especially if we're tired and having a challenging day.
(There are many ways you can handle an emotional hijacking when it takes place. One is a mindfulness breathing practice you can find right here)
Understanding and managing your emotions to reduce emotional hijacking becomes easier as you become more self-aware.
(For more strategies for minimizing and managing emotional hijacking, take a look at this blog post next)
Moods play a vital role in our lives and decision-making too. They are generally defined in two ways: positive or negative. Interestingly, moods are basically long-term emotional states that are not the same as emotions. Even good moods can affect how rational we behave.
Have you ever purchased something you thought you needed or couldn't live without? You realized later that the purchase was not in the budget and that you didn't need it. It has happened to me! I have let a positive mood get me into trouble, especially when shopping! When you're happy and excited, it's easy to do something you may regret later if you are unaware of your emotions.
Making Rational Decisions
Here's the thing, with practice, you can make rational decisions. The next time you find making a decision challenging, try this:
Create a mental or physical "emotions vs. reason list."
If you're creating a physical list, start by placing “emotions” on the left side of the page and ask yourself what your emotions are telling you to do. Place “reason/rationale” on the right side of the page and ask yourself what your reason tells you to do. Trying this exercise will help you clear your mind and use the facts to review your feelings in an organized, rational manner to make the best decision.